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Warning on boys’ voices

11 January 2013

BOYS' voice are breaking earlier, with implications for choirs, new research suggests.

A historical study of the timing of puberty and voice-change in boys was conducted by Professor Martin Ashley, head of research at Edge Hill University's Faculty of Education, in collaboration with Dr Ann-Christine Mecke of the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, in Germany. They analysed 1000 boys' voices.

The study concluded that, for the past 2000 years, boys' voices have tended to break at the age of 14, but that between 1960 and 2012, the percentage of 14-year-olds who were completing puberty had risen from 36 per cent to 62 per cent. Professor Ashley believes that, in Year 8 (the second year of secondary school, during which pupils reach the age of 13), "you might have to retire anything between one third and two-thirds of choristers."

He concludes: "It will prudent to plan for a lower age demographic. Boys need to be recruited at younger ages, and more attention needs to be given to high-quality kindergarten work and the creation of junior training choirs." Cathedrals should plan to have choirboys aged eight to 12 rather than nine to 13, he suggests. "If you have some 13-year-olds still singing, that is wonderful, but be prepared for more and more not to be."

Professor Ashley said that boys recruited while at primary school were "very loyal. . . They can learn to love singing in a church choir. It is their life."

He plans to conduct further research with a larger sample of 14-year-old boys. He has collaborated with Professor David Howard from the University of York to produce a smartphone app that will instantly assess the voices of thousands of boys.



Priest in Charge (Rector Designate)

London and Home Counties

Our suburban parish on the border between the London Borough of Croydon and the lovely Surrey countryside and with a spacious modern Rectory, is seeking a Priest-in-Charge (Rector Designate) to lead our church as we seek to fulfil our mission to proclaim Jesus, change lives and serve our community.   We are looking for a leader who, with energy and dynamism, who will develop the vision for the church to enable the children and families work to be a priority in order to grow the church both in numbers and spiritual maturity. In addition, the new person will care and tend for the existing ageing congregation many of whom have ¬faithfully served the church for many years.   The person we are looking for should have: strong communication skills, the ability to engage and encourage people across the age ranges and to convey the church’s mission, vision and priorities; a commitment to preach the Word of God in thoughtful and stimulating ways; an energy and dynamism probably more extrovert than introvert; a pastoral heart, showing empathy and good listening skills, the ability, willingness and experience to help us to develop and enjoy a variety of worship styles, including a wider range of musical worship and a deeper corporate prayer life -whilst recognising and valuing our heritage;   For further information and to apply, please click the 'apply for this job' button below.   For an informal conversation with the Archdeacon of Croydon, please contact the Archdeacon’s PA Kathleen.bailey@southwark.anglican.org to arrange a time for a phone conversation.   Closing Date: Sunday 12 June 2022 Parish Visit for shortlisted candidates: Monday 11 July 2022 Interviews: Monday 11 July 2022   Please note we have a policy in Southwark Diocese that to be appointed to an incumbent status post, a priest must have served a title in an Anglican church in the British Isles.   This post is subject to DBS enhanced disclosure

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Bringing Down the Mighty: Church, Theology and Structural Injustice
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4-8 July 2022
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